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State School Board Votes to Require ECOT to Repay $60 million

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Ohio’s largest online charter school has promised to continue its legal battle with the state department of education. But the state school board still voted today to require the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow to return $60 million in overpayments for students it couldn’t prove were enrolled full time.

The board voted to accept the findings of an Ohio Department of Education hearing officer, who determined ECOT inflated its full time enrollment by 9,000 when it received $108 million in state funding last year. Board member Stephanie Dodd says the money needs to be returned.

“It’s an overpayment, and I think it’s an unfortunate misuse of dollars and I think it’s best for it to be returned and for us to decide what to do with those dollars in the future,” says Dodd.

One board member abstained, and another later attempted to change her vote to approve the $60 million repayment. Seven ECOT supporters were allowed to make comments to the board after the vote, and praised the flexibility the school offers and criticized the vote as unfair.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.